Category Archives: Driving

Fatal Crash Near Santa Cruz Shuts Down Highway 1

fatal crash
Seven female college students were in the that veered into the other car and killed the driver March 21, between Moss Landing and Castroville on Highway 1. Photo: KSBW Action News.

Marijuana – impairment, along with another unnamed prescription drug, was involved in the accident that shut down Highway 1 for three hours on the afternoon of March 21.   A black Lexus SUV hit a silver Mazda sedan near Molera Road at 12:30 p.m., California Highway Patrol officers said.  It happened between Castroville and Moss Landing.

The 24-year-old man who was driving the Mazda died in the crash.  He has not been identified.

Seven 19- and 20-year-old women were in the Lexus.   They included  four young women from Santa Cruz, students from University of California, Santa Cruz. The three others were college students visiting from Colorado.  They were headed to Big Sur for their Spring Break.

The driver told the California Highway Patrol that she rolled down her window to toss a cigarette out (did she mean joint?), accidentally veered into oncoming traffic, and hit the Mazda.   She has been arrested.

CHP officers said they suspect that the Lexus driver, Linnaye Hernandez, was under the influence of marijuana, and one passenger hid a makeup bag full of marijuana in a farm field.  The passenger, 19-year-old Sarah Cameron of Santa Cruz, was arrested for destroying or concealing evidence.  Investigators said a witness called in and saw Cameron hiding something in a nearby field.

“So thanks to that caller we were able to locate a bag filled with marijuana,” said Oscar Loza, CHP Officer.

During questioning, almost everyone in the Lexus eventually admitted to using marijuana, and the driver said she had taken prescription medication just minutes prior to the crash, according to the CHP.  It is not clear what drug she had taken

Traffic was held up for several hours on Highway 1
Traffic was held up for several hours on Highway 1, near Santa Cruz. Photo: KSBW (ABC Affiliate Central Coast)

The students were transported to Natividad Medical Center and a San Jose trauma center to be treated for injuries that range from critical to minor. The driver suffered a lacerated liver.

“It’s spring break, people want to enjoy their time off, relax, get away from school and that’s great but when you do it, just do it responsibly. We don’t want your break from school to end in a tragedy like this,” said  Loza.

Here’s another report about the accident and investigation.   It should be noted that three of the girls came from school in Colorado and four go to school in Santa Cruz, long-standing center of marijuana activism with the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana.

Marijuana Impairment and Driving

by Ed Wood, founder of DUID Voices and resident of Colorado. The article originally appeared on the DUID Victims’ Voices Blog
Colorado’s Law is Fatally Flawed as a Measure of Marijuana Impairment

The fatal flaws of Colorado’s law regarding driving under the influence of marijuana have now come to light. Set at 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood, the 5 ng THC permissible inference law is bad. (The 5 ng law firmly positioned Colorado with the weakest DUID laws in the nation.) Colorado’s law was supposed to make it somewhat easier to convict a stoned driver of DUI if they tested at or above 5 ng/ml of THC in whole blood — while making it extremely difficult to convict a stoned driver Continue reading Marijuana Impairment and Driving

Marijuana Impaired Driving Leaves Families Grieving

marijuana impairment on the road
Driving under the influence of this mind altering drug doubles the risk of traffic accidents.

Stoned drivers are killing people on sidewalks, even in their own home. 

Traffic deaths due to marijuana impairment doubled in California, from 631 for the five years before 2004, to 1241 for the five years after. In Washington state, the average during the 2010 to 2013 period was 32 to 38 per year. After legalization, 75 marijuana impaired drivers were killed.  Colorado saw the same outcome: a 100% increase. While DUI’s have gone down in many places, DUID cases involving marijuana have increased.

Continue reading Marijuana Impaired Driving Leaves Families Grieving

Marijuana and Traffic Safety

Interesting that a bill (AB1356) focused on roadway safety, calling for saliva testing by police for impaired drivers, failed to pass the California Assembly Public Safety Committee. Two members voted for it, while the chairman voted against.   Four committee members, abstained and didn’t vote.  Their chair is a fellow Democrat, and maybe they felt a need to be loyal towards him.   However, not taking a position at all will truly harm Californians, who face terrible traffic and are increasingly terrorized by stoned drivers.

When 16-20% of weekend drivers test positive for drugs, with a 50% increase in marijuana, it is a threat to public safety. Marijuana impaired deaths in California almost doubled from 2004 to 2009, from 630 to 1241. Nationally, 20% of vehicular crashes are caused by drugged driving, leading to 8,600 deaths. 580,000 injuries and $33 million in property damage. (IBHI.org) Drug-driving fatalities are expected to surpass drunk driving fatalities by 2020.

Because of pot-induced brain impairment, stoned drivers have even  killed people on sidewalks, including a 7-year old girl on Halloween, a jogger in Chico and a CHP officer in San Bernardino, among others. These drivers pose a threat to public safety, and the Public Safety Committee needs to take it seriously.

In spite of all law enforcement agencies supporting the bill, the opposition came from the pro-drug Drug Policy Alliance.   It would be interesting to see if those committee members who abstained are taking contributions from the Drug Policy Alliance which seeks to legalize all drugs.

After the defeat of AB 1356 last night, Rep. Tom Lackey of the Palmdale-Lancaster spoke up. The Palmdale-Lancaster area had been testing this device measure marijuana impairment. It is device being used in VT and one other state and in Belgium.  It could have some value as more drivers are using pot while driving.